Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New short film reveals teens’ experiences being sprayed with pesticides
Last week Toxic Free North Carolina released our latest Farm Worker Documentary Project film, Overworked & Under Spray. It’s a six-minute piece featuring six high school-aged farm workers’ stories about being sprayed with agricultural pesticides while tending crops in fields across NC.
For two months this summer, full-time Student Action with Farmworkers intern Abi Bissette and I crisscrossed the eastern side of the state. We visited farm worker families in their homes, giving out pesticide safety information and discussing their rights as farm workers. By midsummer we had assembled a group of motivated, outspoken teenagers who have worked cultivating and harvesting blueberries, strawberries, sweet potatoes, green beans, grapes, cucumbers and tobacco.
“You could see the spray coming at you...but we kept on working. The next day I didn't feel so good,” Felix Rodriguez, one of the youth featured in the film, told us during his interview. “I wouldn't feel comfortable talking about pesticides to the owner or supervisor because they'll see you as nagging. They just really want you to work.”
When we asked the youth how they would fix the situation, they had a range of impressively astute answers:  put more inspectors in the fields, get rid of child labor in agriculture, make stronger regulations for crew leaders. But one message we heard loud and clear from everyone interviewed was “enough is enough”. The exploitation of children (or anyone) for cheap food—and the poisoning of the people who work to fill our grocery store shelves—has gone on for far too long. It’s time for eaters of conscience to demand an end to abusive, toxic agriculture.
Here in North Carolina we're actively working to protect children, and all workers, from exposure to toxic pesticides and other dangerous working conditions. Want to take action for farm workers in NC? Check out our website for three simple steps you can take.

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